Is it possible to combine capitalism and cats while benefiting the cat as opposed to the usual exploitation? The answer is yes but with some difficulties.
The cat café is coming to London town. Great. I’ll get the chance to try it out. I may even support it financially as it would give me a long term membership of some sort.
There are a lot of really good things about the cat café, both for the cat and the human. Although, as far as I am concerned, the major benefits go to the cat, which is how it should be because the cat needs more help than the human. So say I.
I thought I would dwell upon the subject of the cat café for a while and jot down the plus points. Are there any negatives? Well, yes, perhaps. I’ll think up one or two.
The cat café is a Japanese invention (someone will no doubt correct me on that point). A wise Japanese person thought that adding the presence of a cat or cats to a café would make the ambiance in the café more pleasant and homely. I believe that the business concept is based on the well known saying: “a house is not a home without a cat”. “A café is not homely without a cat”.
And these days a really good cafe should have a nice homely, family feel about it. That is why some books shops have cafés integrated into them. Books, coffee, food, and a cat go together like apple pie and custard or fish and chips. The smell of coffee and the sight of a plush cat lounging on a sofa, smells and looks like home.
What is so neat about this cat-centric business concept, is that it not only improves business, it improves the lives of cats and the lives of people all at the same time. It can’t get better than that in a brutally capitalist world. To me, it seems to be the first (and only?) instance of combining capitalism and cats with the cat gaining and not losing. It is the absolute opposite to the usual scenario of hunting wild cats for their skins.
Londoners have to thank an Australian for bringing cat cafés to London. Typical. Why couldn’t a Brit have done this? Her name, by the way, is Lauren Pears.
Lauren Pear’s cat café concept includes membership of the café and the chance of sponsoring a cat. The café, which incidentally is called Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, will provide a home from home experience with snacks, drinks, books, Wi Fi internet connection, armchairs, sofas, a dozen cats and you can stay as long as you like.
Now for the cat bit. Lauren is working on a deal with a local cat rescue center, Mayhew Animal Home, to provide the cats and audit the cat caretaking.
Cats in a café do present added responsibilities well beyond the usual. Here are some:
- maintaining the cats’ health – a dedicated vet is proposed or I suppose a single vet on a retainer of some sort;
- making sure they are safe – I presume they will be full-time indoor cats;
- considering the adoption of the cats. Their presence in a café opens up the fantastic prospect of customers adopting the cats for their own homes. There should be a continual throughput of cats. The cafe becomes and adoption center at as well. This is probably the single most important aspect for cat lovers. I wonder if this aspect of Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium will work.
- there will be some Health and Safety matters to deal with I am sure and
- insurance issues – a person behaves incorrectly with a cat and gets scratched?
For me it’s all positive. Three potential negatives come to mind:
- The dreaded cat allergen. About 10% of people are allergic or potentially allergic to the cat allergen. They may not know it. They will start to itch in the cafe. Then what?
- Café cats are full-time indoor cats. However, this is going to be a really nice indoors. Will there be a little outside enclosure? This is not really a negative because for the cat life is dramatically improved over being in a shelter.
- Putting twelve cats together in a confined space is going to take some skill from the cat rescue people. The cats have to get along really well. You can’t assume that that will happen. This is the biggest hurdle as far as I can see. Cat fights or growls will achieve the opposite to the intended goal.
Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium will be in the East End of London, miles from me but I’ll be there to check it out. Lauren is looking for more sponsors to help fund the project. I wish her and the cats the very best of luck.